The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) will base a full squadron with new Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Base in Pekanbaru, the TNI-AU Air Force Chief of Staff said Friday 15 November 2013 at the conclusion ceremony of a joint exercise with Singapore.
Pekanbaru is situated only 250 km (156 miles) west of Singapore, in the heart of the Sumatra island. Basing a new fighter unit there will give the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara) not only an additional defence asset on this big chunk of land, it will also strengthen possible co-operation with close friends like Singapore and brings the TNI-AU in a more offensive possition against possible future enemies like China.
The TNI-AU move to base a front-line fighter unit in Pekanbaru will give the Air Force a great possibility to control the aerospace and busy sea lanes of the narrow straight between Sumatra and neighbouring Malaysia. According to press agency Antaranews the base commander of Roesmin Nurjadin sees the F-16s also as an asset against remotely piloted vehicles or drones. Between the lines the air base colonel says “China”. According to Antaranews the F-16s should be operational as early as the beginning of 2014.
The TNI-AU operates a mixture of Russian/Western/Asian made jet aircraft, with its sole Fighting Falcon unit (Skadron Udara 3) at Madiun/Iswahyudi AB on Java operating older F-16A/Bs. Pekanbaru is currently home to Skadron Udara 12 flying the Hawk Mk109/Mk209 advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft.
Indonesia is currently beefing up its defences big time to protect its economic and territorial interests. The Indonesian Air Force is receiving 24 F-16C/D Block 52s, part of a US military support deal to support the huge island nation as its ally. The US has also okay-ed the sale of eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. The TNI-AUs Sukhoi Sukhoi fighter force of 16 aircraft reached full strenth in September.
Australia provides its neighbour with nine ex-RAAF C-130s, while South Korea sold 16 T-50i Golden Hawk advanced jet trainers. The Indonesian Navy started operations with the new EADS/PTDI CN235 Persuader in October 2013 and is aiming to get 21 of those aircraft.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger
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